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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 25, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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still thinking about the lions, tigers, and bears, oh my. on this sunday night -- deadly rampage. what we're learning tonight about the suspect, the warning signs, and how weeks before he came face-to-face with the police as thousands mourn those who were killed. surprise visit to afghanistan. the president thanks the troops and speaks of a sacred obligation to veterans as he deals with a growing v.a. scandal back home. running dry. the unprecedented drought that has texas in a water emergency. and with its economy now threatened, taking desperate measures. and in their honor. a veteran of the d-day invasion. >> the spirit and the bravery in those kids
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>> shares his memories with our colonel jack jacobs, 70 years later. good evening. the sheriff in santa barbara county, california, says his department had multiple contacts with elliot rodger before his deadly rampage on friday night, but nothing deputies saw indicated he represented a danger. of course, now we all know just how deeply disturbed the 22-year-old really was. last night in the community of isla vista near the uc santa barbara campus, a tearful vigil was held for the six people whose lives he brutally took. we now know 13 others were injured in the trail of carnage and suffering that ended with rodger's suicide. and tonight his writings and the sickening video rodger publicly posted before the attack lead to questions about whether anyone was in a position to stop him before it was too late. once again we have two reports beginning with mike taibbi. mike? >> reporter: hello, lester.
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police now have a clear idea of the chronology of the chaotic ten-minute explosion of violence, but they don't know how to hold off the next elliot rodger. the innocent scattered at the sound of gunshots, inside a deli, out on the streets. alleged gunman elliot rodger had taken his murderous plan into the college town enclave of isla vista. >> you denied me a happy life, and in turn i'll deny all of you life. >> reporter: police say he started at his own house. the bodies of three men would be found with multiple stab wounds. from there, armed with three legally purchased semiautomatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition, police say he continued his lethal siege at the alpha phi sorority house, where he couldn't get in, but shot three young women outside, killing two. at the iv deli where he shot and killed one student, and then up and down the beachfront streets,
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ramming pedestrians and bicyclists and getting into two gun battles with police before the final crash. >> it would appear as though he took his own life at this point. >> reporter: his father, prominent film director peter rodger and his mother were distraught over the massacre. just before it unfolded, they had reportedly seen the video and called police and raced to santa barbara, even as details of the rampage under way were in the news. last month they alerted his therapist after seeing his increasingly maudlin, though not threatening, videos and blogs. police were then asked to check on him. they had done so on april 30th. but he told them, he recalled in a long manifesto he sent around just before the shootings that it was all a misunderstanding. "thankfully," he wrote, "all suspicion of me was dropped." >> he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold. >> reporter: that's the law, says a santa barbara mental health advocate, when there's no record or indication that an individual is in immediate danger to himself or others.
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>> they absolutely did what they were supposed to do, what was required by law, as well as what was appropriate. >> reporter: and still? >> in the situation. >> reporter: and still? >> and still, yeah. >> reporter: former fbi profiler clint van zandt agrees. >> police are not mind readers. they can see how we present ourselves, but they can't see what our real thoughts are. >> reporter: elliot rodger's thoughts in that manifesto he circulated on the eve of his killing spree, "i am not part of the human race. humanity has rejected me." now seven human beings, including the one police now call a madman, are dead. in his 140-page manifesto, elliot rodger talked about what he wanted to do and said he had been thinking about it and planning it since he was 17, five years ago. lester? >> mike, we also learned more today about the victims of the shooting, those who lost their lives and those injured in the attack. we get more on them tonight from nbc's joe fryer.
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>> reporter: there is no textbook that teaches students how to mourn a tragedy on this scale. >> you always think, oh, that doesn't happen to me. that doesn't happen in my town. >> reporter: so as the sun began to set on uc santa barbara's darkest day, thousands found strength by marching in silence. with candles lit, they made their way to a park in the heart of isla vista, where they honored the victims including sorority sisters veronika weiss and katie cooper and 20-year-old christopher martinez. >> chris, wherever you are now, we love you, man. >> reporter: chris was a sophomore english major with dreams of attending law school. >> i talked to him about 45 minutes before he died. >> reporter: his father richard says chris was killed outside the popular iv deli mart, where a memorial grows. >> he was the most warm, loving kind-hearted kid you could ask for. >> reporter: at the vigil,
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chris' freshman year roommate shared a favorite memory, the time chris suggested they eat a six-pound bag of chips then spend the night watching tv. >> that's what i think of when i think of him. not that he is gone, but that he was there. >> reporter: six victims were murdered, including the suspect's three roommates, one identified by authorities as 20-year-old cheng yuan hong. also killed, the two women shot outside a sorority house. 19-year-old veronika weiss was a freshman. her father spoke today, saying his daughter was a rare four-sport athlete in high school who excelled at math. hometown friends remember her well. >> she was a great girl. she was innocent, you know. very nice, very -- she didn't deserve this, you know. >> reporter: 22-year-old katie cooper was just weeks from graduating. at the vigil, those who knew katie best remembered a gentle selfless soul who loved to dance. >> i wish i would have said goodbye.
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i wish i would have told her that her dancing was beautiful. i won't forget you, katie. please continue to dance. >> reporter: tonight many continue to visit the memorial here outside of the deli. in addition to those who were killed, 13 people were injured, most of them shot when a few of them were actually hit by the suspect's car. tonight six victims remain in a hospital, two in serious condition. lester? >> so very sad. joe fryer, thank you. president obama made an unannounced trip to afghanistan today to visit american troops as they near the end of their mission in that country, while back home his administration is increasingly being consumed by the v.a. scandal. here is nbc's kristen welker. >> reporter: with the scandal over widespread misconduct at veterans hospitals mounting at home, president obama secretly flew into afghanistan's bagram airfield today, surprising the troops currently serving. >> i'm here on a single mission, and that is to thank you for
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extraordinary service. >> reporter: mr. obama spoke before an enthusiastic crowd, punctuating the moment with a poignant reminder. >> i saw a picture of the twin towers in the operation room nearby. so i know you don't forget. >> reporter: this is the president's fourth trip to afghanistan, and it comes at a pivotal moment. the u.s. is preparing to officially end combat operations in afghanistan at the end of 2014, but the key question, how many of the more than 30,000 troops will remain after that. today a hint. >> once afghanistan has sworn in its new president, i'm hopeful we'll sign a bilateral security agreement. assuming it is signed, we can plan for a limited military presence. >> reporter: and while the president didn't define what he meant by limited, he did meet with his top commanders, where they discussed options for a future american presence. >> we'll probably be announcing some decisions fairly shortly. >> reporter: mr. obama didn't talk specifically about the v.a. scandal, but he emphasized the country's obligation to its
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military veterans. >> helping our wounded warriors and veterans heal isn't just a promise, it's a sacred obligation. >> reporter: some veterans marking memorial day at home cheered the visit. >> it shows he cares. >> reporter: still, anger over the v.a. continues to grow. >> there should be some stiff punishment for the people that are allowing this to go on. >> reporter: but in afghanistan today, the president said he wanted to make sure the active duty troops know they're not forgotten. >> i may not be able to take a selfie with everybody, but i'll shake every hand. >> reporter: the president will be back at the white house tomorrow and participate in memorial day celebrations here in d.c. but the v.a. scandal continues to loom large at parades and commemorations across the country this weekend. and with congress in recess, veterans have a chance to be heard directly. lester? >> kristen welker, thank you. in ukraine tonight, exit polls show the front-runner, a pro western business tycoon has won the presidential election. but not everybody was able to vote today in the divided country where hopes for unity
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are uncertain at best. our report tonight from nbc's ayman mohyeldin in kiev. >> reporter: he's a billionaire, making his fortune from chocolate. but tonight petro poroshenko is poised to be ukraine's next president. with the challenges ahead, poroshenko's victory may not be as sweet as it seems. >> in the state the economy is not very good. but immediately when we establish the peace, we will do the absolutely unique transformation of the country. >> reporter: today millions turned out to vote for the country's first leader since a revolution toppled ukraine's former pro-russian president. many, like 31-year-old factory owner andre with one issue on their mind. >> what's most important is to fight corruption, only this way. >> reporter: on the outskirts of kiev, people here dream of a better future. but with a collapsing economy and growing violence in eastern ukraine, that may be far off.
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what worries you about what is happening in eastern ukraine? >> the fighting, the conflicts. >> reporter: for months, pro-russian separatists have been rebelling against the government. today they prevented the presidential vote from taking place in several eastern cities. but the vote in the majority of the country went off without any disruptions, much of it under the watchful eye of international observers, including former u.s. secretary of state madeleine albright. poroshenko's success will now depend on whether he can build a conclusive government representing ukraine's divided regions and political parties while drawing on the youth and revolutionary movements that swept him into power. in the meantime, ukrainians will continue to wait for the better future many here have sacrificed so much more. ayman mohyeldin, nbc news, kiev, ukraine. pope francis is in jerusalem tonight after spending the day in the west bank where he issued a stunning invitation that puts him squarely in the middle of the mideast peace process. more on this tonight from nbc's
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anne thompson. >> reporter: pope francis' day of deliberate acts with powerful messages began with his arrival, flying directly to the palestinian territories from jordan, bypassing israel on the way in. the first pope to do so. in his meeting with president mahmoud abbas, francis recognized the territories as, quote, the state of palestine. then he made an unannounced stop at a graffiti covered section of the concrete separation wall, praying at the barrier that palestinians say essentially makes them prisoners but israel insists is necessary for its security. >> excuse me. >> reporter: that wall is why claire anastas fought her way through the crowds of bethlehem's manger square to see the pope. carrying a poster asking him to save her house, which is surrounded by the wall. >> reporter: what do you see when you look out your windows? >> i see only walls and cameras and israeli towers.
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>> reporter: but perhaps the biggest surprise came during the mass in the square. when francis invited abbas and israeli president shimon peres to the vatican to pray for peace. they accepted. vera baboun is bethlehem's palestinian mayor. do you feel more optimistic tonight that change is possible than you did this morning? >> yes. peace, in order to hear its clap, it needs two hands. one hand can never clap. >> reporter: it's not just the divide between the palestinians and israelis that concerns the pope. there is also a divide within christianity itself. tonight he prayed with the leader of orthodox christians on the site where christ was crucified, the latest act of unity between two churches once separated for more than 900 years. tomorrow, pope francis will end his trip here in jerusalem. he will visit the western wall, yad vashem, and celebrate mass
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in the room where christ had his last supper. that's above the tomb of king david, an event that sparked protests from ultra orthodox jews in advance of the pope's visit. lester? >> anne, thank you. when "nbc nightly news" continues on this sunday, a catastrophic drought and the real possibility that some towns in texas will run out of water very soon.
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we're back with a story of desperate days in texas, where the drought has become so critical that some towns could run out of drinking water in the next 90 days. our report tonight from nbc's janet shamlian. >> reporter: there is a line to
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get into castaway cove in wichita falls because this water park is the only recreational water attraction for miles. and they're not coming by it easily. catastrophic drought restrictions are in effect, forcing the city-owned park to truck in well water just to stay open. 9,000 gallons a day. >> it comes with a price, the price of probably $70,000 is what it's going to cost us this year to bring water in. >> reporter: it's the price they have to pay to help keep the city's economy afloat. it's a modern-day dust bowl in texas, forcing desperate measures. wichita falls also has plans to recycle the water people flush down their toilets for drinking water. >> this is probably when it's all said and done going to be our drought of record. >> reporter: the latest drought monitor shows texas bone-dry. 90% of the state is in drought. to date, 11 public water systems could run out of water in the next 45 days. >> really more than anything, it's just kind of scary.
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you know, we're very cautious about how we use our water. we're trying to conserve water as much as possible. >> reporter: the effects are rippling through the economy. car washes can operate only five days a week. jobs may be on the line. >> it's a challenge to find ways to remain viable and profitable during this time. >> reporter: it's come to this. they're praying for rain. this could be the new normal. the current texas drought started four years ago. and experts say it's among the worst of the past 500 years. the only color around jean and jim brennan's home on lake arrowhead are these artificial flowers. >> that's my phony flowers. >> reporter: the lake, just 25% full, is wichita fall's primary water supply. >> it used to come clear up to where the fence line is under those piers. >> reporter: it's an oasis, castaway cove, on an otherwise parched landscape as drought's firm grip refuses to let go. janet shamlian, nbc news, houston.
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up next here tonight, the catch of the day for a guy who wasn't even trying.
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♪ and the rocket's red glare a memorial day weekend tradition. the 98th running of the indy 500, and it all came down to the final lap when ryan hunter-reay was able to surge ahead, becoming the first american to win the race in eight years. he won by just 0.06 of a second the second closest finish in the history of the race. in philadelphia, the best play of yesterday's dodgers-phillies game was in the bottom of the sixth. carlos ruiz hit a foul ball to right field, and it was caught by someone in the stands. it's a bit hard to see, but that's him right there, the guy in the yellow shirt. it turns out he is a beer vendor. the catch, unintentional. the ball landing right in his box. and with that, he was back to work. when we come back, a veteran of d-day remembers the battle seven decades later.
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tomorrow, memorial day, we will pause to remember those in uniform who have died for their country. their service and bravery is embodied in people like 90-year-old world war ii and d-day invasion veteran edward gorman. with the 70th anniversary of d-day less than two weeks away, gorman recently sat down to share his experiences with another vet, our colleague colonel jack jacobs, a wounded vietnam vet and recipient of the medal of honor. two soldiers from different wars who share the kind of bond forged only on the field of battle.
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>> memories of world war ii still haunt ed gorman. >> this is the time of the year that sort of gets to you, you know. >> gorman was an army radio operator assigned to the joint assault signal corps in june 1944. >> we didn't know where we were going, where we were going to land. we just knew that something was up. >> just 20 at the time, gorman was among the 150,000 allied troops who took part in the normandy invasion. >> the rockets went off and the bombs started. the ships opened fire. >> scared? >> oh, yeah, oh, yeah. but at the same time, you know, so much going on, you don't have time, you know. you wouldn't know. god blessed you, you know. you don't have time to be scared. >> after coming under heavy fire and hitting a mine just a mile offshore, gorman's unit finally made it to omaha beach. what did you see when you got ashore?
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i've seen it, too. >> yes, you know what it's like. you see it, and at the same time, you don't see it, if you know what i mean. because you are concentrating on your job and what has to be done. and as we were laying wire late dusk and into the dark, you know, we were tripping as we were going. and you look down and you saw what you were tripping over. whew. >> you weren't prepared for that, were you? >> no, no. that's when, you know, it was true life. >> the bloodiest fighting occurred at omaha beach, resulting in more than 2,000 american casualties. >> when they talk about a pool
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of red, you see a whole -- hundreds of yards of shoreline. >> it's okay. you're talking to an old soldier too, you know. >> you know, the spirit and the bravery in those kids, you just can't evaluate it. but we broke through. >> d-day would be the turning point of world war ii. but gorman's heroism and service didn't stop when he retired from the army. he has made it his mission to be an advocate for veterans. >> the honor is all mine. >> and gorman founded the blue star support group in woodbridge township, new jersey, a program that helps military families. >> i always called ed my second father. >> a beloved member of his community -- >> 21st day of may in the year
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2014 to be staff sergeant edward gorman day. >> -- gorman is as humble as they come. a member of an elite group of veterans whose magnificent bravery saved the world. >> jack, i just take my hat off to you. i salute you. >> and i salute you too. >> colonel jack jacobs, isla, new jersey. >> two remarkable soldiers who on this memorial day weekend honor their comrades who didn't make it home. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. ♪
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♪ . good evening and thanks for joining us. >> we are following new developments near uc santa barbara, where authorities are investigating the deadly rampage in isla vista. kim has the latest. >> reporter: two of the victims from san jose and another one from fremont. the uc santa barbara students were all found dead with stab wounds. the victims are chen yuan hong and george chen from san jose and 20-year-old

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